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Lombrosian Theory of crime causation

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sebis1

Cesare Lombroso was an Italian criminologist who founded the Italian School of Positivist Criminology in the 19th century. He developed the theory of atavism, which claimed that criminals have hereditary tendencies that are transmitted genetically and that criminals can be identified by physical abnormalities. Lombroso classified criminals into three categories: hereditary criminals, insane criminals, and criminoids. While his theory of physical criminal types was widely criticized and has been disproven, Lombroso made important contributions by shifting criminology's focus to the individual criminal rather than just their crimes. His work emphasized studying criminals scientifically and treating them individually rather than just punishing their acts.

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ANALYSE THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND LOMBROSIAN
THEORY OF CRIME CAUSATION- CRITICALLY
EXAMINE ITS RELEVANCE IN MODERN TIMES.
Sebi S
Govt. Law College,
Ernakulam.
POSITIVIST SCHOOL
 The positivist school of criminology emerged in the 19th century as
a contrasting idea to the classical theory of crime.
 The classical school of criminology posited that individuals commit
crimes because of their selfish desires and that crime is a product
of free will.
 The Positivist School was founded by Cesare Lombroso and led by
two others: Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo. As the main
exponents of this school were the Italian Criminologists, this
school is called the Italian school of criminology.
 In criminology, it has attempted to find scientific objectivity for
the measurement and quantification of criminal behaviour.
 Under this school, method was developed by observing the
characteristics of criminals to observe what may be the root cause
of their behaviour or actions.
 The advocates of this school completely discarded the theories of
omnipotence of spirit and free will on the ground that they were
hypothetical and irrational. Alternatively, they attributed
criminality to anthropological, physical and social environment.
CESARE LOMBROSO
6 NOVEMBER 1835 – 19 OCTOBER 1909
 Cesare Lambroso was an
Italian criminologist,
phrenologist, physician and
the founder of the Italian
School of Positivist
Criminology.
 Lombroso believed that
criminals have hereditary
incentives, which are
transmitted from
generation to generation in
a genetic way and therefore
believe in the existence of
“criminal genes”.
LOMBROSIAN THEORY OF DEVIANCE
 Cesare Lambroso was the first criminologist who made an
attempt to understand the personality of offenders in
physical terms.
 Lombroso employed scientific methods in explaining criminal
behaviour and shifted the emphasis from crime to criminal.
 Lombroso developed the ‘Theory of Deviance’ and according
to this theory, a person’s bodily constitution indicates
whether or not an individual is a born criminal or not.
 In developing this theory, Lambroso observed the physical
characteristics of Italian prisoners and compared them to
those of Italian soldiers.
 Lombroso also maintained that criminals had less sensitivity
to pain and touch; more acute sight; a lack of moral sense,
including an absence of remorse; more vanity, impulsiveness,
vindictiveness, and cruelty and also other manifestations.
Lombrosian theory of deviance
 Lombroso was among the first to consider criminality, in
men and women, as a phenomenon worthy of scientific
study.
 He recognized the diminished role of organic factors in
many habitual offenders and referred to the delicate
balance between predisposing factors (organic, genetic)
and precipitating factors such as one’s environment,
opportunity or poverty.
 Lombroso's research methods were clinical and descriptive,
with precise details of skull dimensions and other
measurements. He did not engage in rigorous statistical
comparisons of criminals and non-criminals.
 Although he gave some recognition in his later years to
psychological and sociological factors in the etiology of
crime, he remained convinced of and identified with,
criminal anthropometry.
CLASSIFICATION OF CRIMINALS
Lombroso classified criminals in to three categories:
 The atavist or hereditary criminals
 Insane criminals
 Criminoids
 The atavist or hereditary criminals
Lombroso termed them as born-criminals.
According to him, born-criminals were of a distinct type who
could not refrain from indulging in criminality and
environment had no relevance whatsoever to the crimes
committed by the Atavists.
Lombroso considered these criminals as incorrigibles, i.e.,
beyond reformation.
He enumerated as many as sixteen physical abnormalities of
a criminal some of which were peculiar size and shape of
head, eye, enlarged jaw and cheek bones, fleshy lips,
abnormal teeth, long or flat chin, retreating forehead,
dark skin, twisted nose and so on.

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Lombrosian Theory of crime causation

  • 1. ANALYSE THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND LOMBROSIAN THEORY OF CRIME CAUSATION- CRITICALLY EXAMINE ITS RELEVANCE IN MODERN TIMES. Sebi S Govt. Law College, Ernakulam.
  • 2. POSITIVIST SCHOOL  The positivist school of criminology emerged in the 19th century as a contrasting idea to the classical theory of crime.  The classical school of criminology posited that individuals commit crimes because of their selfish desires and that crime is a product of free will.  The Positivist School was founded by Cesare Lombroso and led by two others: Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo. As the main exponents of this school were the Italian Criminologists, this school is called the Italian school of criminology.  In criminology, it has attempted to find scientific objectivity for the measurement and quantification of criminal behaviour.  Under this school, method was developed by observing the characteristics of criminals to observe what may be the root cause of their behaviour or actions.  The advocates of this school completely discarded the theories of omnipotence of spirit and free will on the ground that they were hypothetical and irrational. Alternatively, they attributed criminality to anthropological, physical and social environment.
  • 3. CESARE LOMBROSO 6 NOVEMBER 1835 – 19 OCTOBER 1909  Cesare Lambroso was an Italian criminologist, phrenologist, physician and the founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology.  Lombroso believed that criminals have hereditary incentives, which are transmitted from generation to generation in a genetic way and therefore believe in the existence of “criminal genes”.
  • 4. LOMBROSIAN THEORY OF DEVIANCE  Cesare Lambroso was the first criminologist who made an attempt to understand the personality of offenders in physical terms.  Lombroso employed scientific methods in explaining criminal behaviour and shifted the emphasis from crime to criminal.  Lombroso developed the ‘Theory of Deviance’ and according to this theory, a person’s bodily constitution indicates whether or not an individual is a born criminal or not.  In developing this theory, Lambroso observed the physical characteristics of Italian prisoners and compared them to those of Italian soldiers.  Lombroso also maintained that criminals had less sensitivity to pain and touch; more acute sight; a lack of moral sense, including an absence of remorse; more vanity, impulsiveness, vindictiveness, and cruelty and also other manifestations.
  • 5. Lombrosian theory of deviance  Lombroso was among the first to consider criminality, in men and women, as a phenomenon worthy of scientific study.  He recognized the diminished role of organic factors in many habitual offenders and referred to the delicate balance between predisposing factors (organic, genetic) and precipitating factors such as one’s environment, opportunity or poverty.  Lombroso's research methods were clinical and descriptive, with precise details of skull dimensions and other measurements. He did not engage in rigorous statistical comparisons of criminals and non-criminals.  Although he gave some recognition in his later years to psychological and sociological factors in the etiology of crime, he remained convinced of and identified with, criminal anthropometry.
  • 6. CLASSIFICATION OF CRIMINALS Lombroso classified criminals in to three categories:  The atavist or hereditary criminals  Insane criminals  Criminoids  The atavist or hereditary criminals Lombroso termed them as born-criminals. According to him, born-criminals were of a distinct type who could not refrain from indulging in criminality and environment had no relevance whatsoever to the crimes committed by the Atavists. Lombroso considered these criminals as incorrigibles, i.e., beyond reformation. He enumerated as many as sixteen physical abnormalities of a criminal some of which were peculiar size and shape of head, eye, enlarged jaw and cheek bones, fleshy lips, abnormal teeth, long or flat chin, retreating forehead, dark skin, twisted nose and so on.
  • 7. Theory of Atavism  The word ‘Atavistic’ comes from the Latin word “avatus”, which means ‘ancestor’ in Latin.  In his view, criminals reflect a reversion to an early and more primitive being that was both mentally and physically inferior.  Lombroso’s theory used physical characteristics as indicators of criminality and suggest that criminals are distinguished from non criminals by multiple physical anomalies.  Lombroso moderated his theory of physical anomaly in later years but his emphasis throughout his work was on human physical traits which also included biology, psychology and environment.
  • 8. Theory of Atavism  In ’The Criminal Man’, first published in 1876, he suggested that there was distinct biological class of people that were prone to criminality.  The ‘atavistic’ characteristics, he argued, denoted the fact that the offenders were at a more primitive stage of evolution than non-offenders and they were called “genetic throwbacks” . This implies that criminality is inherited and that it can be identified by physical defects.  The theory was that criminals were physically different from normal persons and possessed a few physical characteristics of inferior animal world.  This made them, according to Lombroso, wilder, untamed and unable to fit in the 1870’s society and therefore they would inevitably turn to crime.  The Theory of Atavism was revised in 1906 and held that only one-third of criminals were born criminals and not all the criminals.  Finally, he conceded that his theory of atavism was ill-founded and held that there were in fact occasional criminals.
  • 9.  Insane Criminals: The second category of criminals according to Lombroso consisted of insane criminals who resorted to criminality on account of certain mental depravity or disorder.  Criminoids: The third category of criminals was those of criminoids who were physical criminal type and had a tendency to commit crime in order to overcome their inferiority in order to meet the needs of survival.  Besides describing the term "born criminal,” Lombroso also described "criminaloids", or occasional criminals, criminals by passion, moral imbeciles, and criminal epileptics.
  • 10. LOMBROSIAN VIEW REGARDING FEMALE CRIMINALITY  Lombroso used his theory of atavism to explain women's criminal offending.  Lombroso viewed female criminals as having an excess of male characteristics. He argued that, biologically, criminal females more closely resembled males than females.  According to this theory, Lombroso outlines a comparative analysis of "normal women" as opposed to "criminal women" such as "the prostitute.“ However, Lombroso's "obdurate beliefs" about women presented an "intractable problem" for this theory: "Because he was convinced that women are inferior to men Lombroso was unable to argue, based on his theory of the born criminal, that women's lesser involvement in crime reflected their comparatively lower levels of atavism."
  • 11. LOMBROSO AND DARWIN’S THEORY OF EVOLUTION  Lombroso was heavily influenced by a misunderstood Darwin: criminals were “throwbacks” in the phylogenetic tree to early phases of evolution.  If a criminal man is an ancestral form of human being, obviously his anthropological features and physiological reactions would be different from those of the “normal nineteenth century man”. For this reason Lombroso quickly applied anthropometry to the criminal man and woman.  Lombroso argued that criminals were not to blame for their criminal activities as their behaviour was determined by their physiology. From this anatomical observation, Lombroso also quickly extended the theory of deviance as a form of evolutionary blockage to insanity.  Lombroso considered insanity a milder form of regression in the evolutionary tree, less dramatic than criminality, and genius a sort of mental mosaic in which the evolution of positive qualities was mixed with degeneration of some somatic organs.
  • 12. CHARACTERISTICS OF CRIMINALS  Cesare Lombroso concluded that the criminals were physically different. The physical characteristics that he used to identify criminals included:  An asymmetry of the face or head.  Large monkey-like ears.  Large lips.  Long arms.
  • 13. CHARACTERISTICS OF CRIMINALS  A twisted nose.  Excessive cheekbones.  Excessive wrinkles on the skin.  Large jaw.  Large chin.  Lombroso declared that Males with five or more of these characteristics could be marked as born criminals.  Females, on the other hand, only needed as few as three of these characteristics to be born criminals.
  • 14. CRITICAL VIEW REGARDING LOMBROSIAN THEORY ENRICO FERRI Enrico Ferri challenged Lombroso’s theory of atavism and demonstrated that it was erroneous to think that criminals were incorrigible. He believed that just as non-criminals could commit crimes if placed in conducive circumstances as also the criminals could refrain from criminality in healthy and crime –free surroundings. According to him, crime is the synthetic product of three main factors:  Physical or geographical;  Anthropological; and  Psychological or social. Ferri emphasized that criminal behaviour is an outcome of a variety of factors having their combined effect on the individual. According to him social change, which is inevitable in a dynamic society, results in disharmony, conflict and cultural variations. As a result of this, social disorganization takes place and a traditional pattern of social control mechanism totally breaks down. In the wake of such rapid social changes, the incidence of crime is bound to increase tremendously. The heterogeneity of social conditions destroys the congenial social relationship, creating a social vacuum which proves to be a fertile ground for criminality.
  • 15. GABRIEL DE TARDE  Gabriel de Tarde, the eminent French criminologist and social psychologist, criticized Lombroso’s theory of criminal behaviour, and offered a social explanation of crime.  Tarde asserted that criminal behaviour is the result of a learning process, therefore, any speculation regarding direct relationship between physical appearance and criminal propensities of criminals would mean overlooking the real cause of criminality.  Tarde further denounced the proposition of phrenologists who tried to establish a correlation between the skull, the brain and the social behaviour of a person.
  • 16. GORING Goring carried out research on the psychology of criminals. After a series of comparisons between the criminals and non-criminals, he concluded that there was nothing like ‘physical criminal type as suggested by Lombroso. SUTHERLAND Prof. Sutherland observed that by shifting the attention from crime as a social phenomenon to crime as an individual phenomenon, Lombroso delayed for fifty years the work which was in progress at the time of its origin and in addition, made no lasting contribution of his own. LINDESMITH AND LEVIN Lindesmith and Levin even alleged that Lombroso’s faulty assumption’s were responsible for hindering the growth of the scientific criminology for few more decades.
  • 17. RELEVANCE OF LOMBROSIAN THEORY IN PRESENT CONTEXT The greatest contribution is the development of criminal science, which lies in the fact that the attention of criminologists was drawn for the first time towards the individual, that is, the personality of criminal rather than his act (crime) or punishment.  This paved the way for the modern penologists to formulate a criminal policy embodying the principle of individualization as a method and reformation. Thus introduced the methodology and logic of natural science in the field of criminology.  While analyzing causes of crime, Lombroso laid greater emphasis on the biological nature of human behaviour and thus indirectly drew attention of criminologists to the impact of environment on crime causation.
  • 18. The individualization of punishment, which all humanitarian and scientific thinkers now agreed upon, is something which Lombroso's work, more perhaps than that of any other man, has helped to bring about and amounts to one of the greatest contribution to criminology. The emphasis was shifted from penology to criminology and the objects of punishment were radically changed in as much as retributory methods were abandoned. Criminals were now to be treated rather than punished. Protection of society from criminals was to be the primary object which could be achieved by utilizing reformatory methods for different classes of criminals in varying degrees. It is in this context that Lombrosian theory is said to have given birth to modern sociological or clinical school which regards criminal as a by-product of his conditions and experience of life.
  • 19. One thing Lombroso's work has definitely accomplished, and which will remain forever a monument to his name is that the criminal man must be studied and not simply crime in the abstract; that the criminal must be treated as an individual and not his act alone considered. At a later stage Lombroso himself was convinced about the futility of his theory of atavism and therefore extended his theory of determinism to social as well as economic situations of criminals. Thus he was positive in method and objective in approach which subsequently paved way to formulation of multiple-causation theory of crime by the propounders of sociological school of criminology Lombroso accepted that there could be extenuating circumstances under which an individual might be forced to commit crime. Therefore, besides looking to the crime strictly from the legal standpoint, the judicial authorities should not lose sight of the circumstantial conditions of the accused while determining his guilt and awarding punishment.
  • 20. CONCLUSION  Even though the modern positivism in criminology has developed its own systemic views in which it is told that there is little scope for Lombroso’s Atavism and is quite described as ‘Lombrosian Myth’ in Criminology, we cannot fully close our eyes regarding the contribution of Lombroso to the development of the science of criminology.  It can be rightly commented that the sociologists emphasise on the external factors, psychologists on the internal factors, while Lombroso held that both had a common denominator– the ‘individual’.  The ‘individualistic’ approach in crime and criminology is the foundation on which the present pillars and structures of criminology is built.